Florals, for him?
The lines between men’s and women’s fragrance are increasingly blurred and while we’re still champions of one-size-fits-all approach, passing back and forth our Comme Des Garcons with our significant other, are there certain ingredients that just don’t belong in fragrances for him? We’re here to talk about flowers. And, whilst you may think they are reserve for the world of women’s perfume, flowers, in actual fact have played an equally important part in fragrances for him. Men's floral fragrances, let's discuss. But first, if you haven't already, make sure you check our our Marie Claire Perfume Directory.
On the surface, this seems innovative and boundary pushing but Roja Dove, master perfumer, says that ‘Floral notes are typically associated with femininity but it is essential to understand that we use huge volumes of floral materials in masculine perfumery too’. David Seth Moltz of D.S & Durga (a super cool niche perfume house) says that ‘flower notes were historically important in Men’s colognes and scents up until around WWII. But the dawn of the big florals in the 80s and the sugar fruity florals in the 90s/00s have skewed our vision of what “floral” means in perfume.’
Perhaps us leaving these all behind is a result of our Britishness - as nation it's something we seemingly forgotten whereas other cultures florals play a prominent part. Just look at the Middle-Eastern market where heady oud’s laced with the sweetest roses, vibrant jasmine and delicate violets reign supreme.
As a fragrance lover, I often cast my mind back to the moments that scent has played a part in my life. And, it’s the moment I fell in love with florals that is seminal. In 2007 I found myself in front of the most impeccably shiny and heavily dark wooded counter tops, the Tom Ford stand in an American shopping mall, that my love for unabashedly out-there fragrance was firmly rooted. I was presented the latest addition to the Tom Ford family, a collection that I was unaware of up until this moment. The heady and overtly floral and powdery juice of Black Orchid figuratively slapped me firmly across the face and I knew that the world of fragrance, for me, would never quite be the same.
So florals in men’s fragrance: not necessarily groundbreaking but rather some of the most important notes to lift and elevate masculine fragrance – and they do so in their own unique ways. So without further ado, we present the best use of flowers in fragrances for him – the pick of the bunch, if you will.
Shake off connotations of English tea-rooms and think less powdery blooms but softer, grassier and much greener visions. The bud gets updated with tough rounded notes of bergamot in Etro ManRose, £93.17 FOR 100ml EDP. The construction in Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noir Pour Homme, £130 for 100ml EDP, to me, is a literal representation of the rose’s journey from wet bud through to blossom and cleverly kept distinctly masculine with the addition of patchouli, artemisia and caraway on the dry down which cut through any powdery notes. Coffee grounds the rose in Atelier Cologne Café Tuberose, £110 for 100ml EDP and rose essence is given a deep and distinctly brooding feel with the addition of vetiver and ambery woods in Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Or Encens , £51 for 125ml EDP.
With its minty, grassy and green scent geranium makes the perfect perfume partner and keeps notes super fresh, just look at Frederic Malle Dominic Ropion Geranium Pour Monsieur, £170 for 100ml EDP, which, when road tested was a front runner in the compliments tally (but who's keeping score, anyway). Toughens up fruity notes in Yves Saint Laurent Y, £53 for 60ml EDP and Hugo Boss Bottled, £32 for 50ml EDP and as a base in Zegna Elements of Man Integrity, £180 for 100ml EDP keeps the juice the right side of heady.
Perhaps the most expected of the bunch, we're much more familiar - and comfortable with, lavender. Givenchy Gentleman, £59.40 for 100ml EDP included lavender in its first incarnation in 1974 but it's up to date one smells even better. When added to darker woody notes, lavender lifts and lightens as seen in Dolce & Gabbana Intenso, £73 for 100ml EDP.
Whilst it may be hard to pin down the exact smell of a violet: is it peppery or sweet, or perhaps a little powdery, one thing for sure is that when mixed with gourmand notes like cinnamon and vanilla, it lifts each ingredient to another level. Look to the likes of Cire Trudon Bruma, £165 for 100ml EDP, and Tom Ford Noir, £96 for 100ml EDP for exemplary uses. When mixed with dark leathery notes, violet becomes slightly bitter which lightens the heaviness making it suitable for all day wear as seen in Byredo Rodeo, £150 for 100ml EDP.
Okay, so jasmine has had a bad rep at certain points - and it often feels like the fragrance world loves to hate it, but a host of fragrance houses are seeing it as a key player to their juice.
Aromatic qualities can be found in Acqua Di Parma Colonia Pura, £91 for 100ml EDP and Roja Dove Elysium Pour Homme, £225 for 100ml EDP which brings out mysterious qualities. Just the right amount of jasmine adds a punch to the creaminess of magnolia in Tom Daxon Magnolia Heights, £105 for 50ml EDP. And perhaps, our favourite use can be found in DS & Durga White Peacock Lily, £135 for 100ml EDP.
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Top notes: Bergamot, Pepper, Cardamom
Middle notes: Rose, Geranium, Incense
Base notes: Patchouli, Musk, Amber, Vetiver
Top notes: Rose
Middle notes: Cumin, Patchouli
Base notes: Musk
Top notes: Bergamot, Tangerine, Cardamom
Middle notes: Tuberose, Damascena, Espresso
Base notes: Patchouli, Vanilla, Cacao
Top notes: Lemon, Coriander, Lime
Middle notes:</strong Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Lotus
Base notes: Tobacco, Cedar, Sandalwood
Top notes: Star Anise, Mint, Geranium
Middle notes: Cinnamon, Clove
Base notes: Incense, Sandalwood, Musk
Top notes: Lemon, Lime, Apple
Middle notes: Cinnamon, Carnation, Mahogany
Base notes: Cedar, Vetiver, Sandalwood
Top notes: Ginger, Aldehydes, Mint
Middle notes: Sage, Geranium, Violet Leaf
Base notes: Ambgergris, Musk, Incense
Top notes: Sage, Warm Spices
Middle notes: Wild Berries, Green notes
Base notes: African Geranium, Amber
Top notes: Verbena, Caraway, Pink Pepper, Violet
Middle notes: Nutmeg, Clary Sage, Geranium
Base notes: Amber, Vetiver, Patchouli